Dublin’s skyrocketing rents have forced Trinity neuroscientist Evan Mcgloughlin and his childhood friends to head to Barcelona to launch their language-learning app, Weeve.
We can’t pay Dublin rent, we can’t pay Dublin groceries. Barcelona has sun, beaches and also a big technology center. To be honest, it’s going to be hard to get me out of this town.
“If the offer is: you have to move back to Ireland, the weather is getting worse, you have to pay more and probably have a smaller apartment, then it’s not the most attractive. It’s just too expensive and I think our quality of life would decrease.”
Weeve, which teaches languages by weaving foreign words into bite-sized books in your native language, was the brainchild of Mr Mcgloughlin’s childhood friend and fellow Trinity graduate Cian McNally and was born out of “too boredom” during the first Covid lockdown.
“We didn’t think at all when we did it that it was going to be full-time,” said Mr. Mcgloughlin. “Honestly, our mindset was, ‘Let’s just build something; it’ll probably fail and then we’ll learn some stuff and then we’ll probably build something else.’”
Last year Mr McNally and Mr Mcgloughlin were in the Sunday Independent 30 entrepreneurs under 30 to watch and just weeks away from completing a €250,000 pre-seed round with €75,000 already raised, mostly from family, friends and Trinity contacts.
The four co-founders – all childhood or college friends – moved to Barcelona a month ago to break into the Spanish-English learning market.
Depending on which language app you believe, Spanish is either the second (Babbel) or fourth (Busuu) most spoken language in the world.
“If someone wants to learn Spanish in Ireland, yes, it’s kind of cool if they learn Spanish. They’re going to be motivated in some way,” says Mr. Mcgloughlin. “But a Spanish speaker trying to learn English is essential to their job.”
The recently launched app works by flavoring summarized non-fiction with words in your chosen language. So you can read Malcolm Gladwell’s 20 minute Spanish-English hybrid version Talk to strangers or Yuval Noah Hararis sapiens.
A slider at the bottom of the screen that lets you choose the proportion of foreign words you want to weave in – from zero to 100 pieces – depending on your level. So far, Spanish is the only language in the app, but more languages are coming soon – French is next.
“It allows you to use the language you know – which is English – as a framework for the other language,” explains McGloughlin. “So you can understand the meaning of the word in context.”
Not a natural language learner – ‘I actually got the worst grade you can get in Irish at school,’ said Mr Mcgloughlin – thanks to Weeve he now speaks passable Spanish.
Weeve’s website features public domain novels including Alice in Wonderland and The Great Gatsby in several languages, for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners.
A €1M seed round is forthcoming as Mr Mcgloughlin and his co-founders fine-tune the technology. But they’re not planning a hiring tour, and they won’t accept discounts on Weeve’s valuation in exchange for stock shares.
“We don’t want to give up this property so soon.
“Obviously we want to grow as much as possible and scale the company, but we definitely don’t want to hire people and inflate unnecessarily.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/we-cant-pay-for-dublin-rent-we-cant-pay-for-dublin-groceries-dublin-startup-weeve-quits-capital-for-barcelona-41935294.html Dublin startup Weeve is giving Barcelona expensive capital